Do you believe that presidential polls accurately reflect voter sentiment, and that they are reliable predictors of the outcome on Election Day?
By Krassotkin (derivative), Gage Skidmore (Donald Trump), Gage Skidmore (Hillary Clinton) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
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How do we explain Hillary Clinton’s astonishing loss in 2016, when she had a substantial lead in the polls for most of the weeks leading up to the election?
A reasonable explanation is that many potential Trump voters were ashamed to admit to pollsters that they intended to vote for this disreputable person. That’s as good an explanation as any other.
Fast forward to the polls currently showing the leading Democratic candidates beating President Trump in the next election. Surely it would be reasonable to assume that once again, substantial numbers of Trump voters are not admitting that they favor such a widely reviled candidate.
So, would it not be reasonable to assume that the presidential polls are once again underestimating Trump’s elector appeal? Maybe not.
Consider the president’s hold on his party. It is extremely obvious that no Republican member of Congress dares to defy him for fear of being “primaried” in the next election.
Indeed, when Arizona Senator Jeff Flake had the temerity to write a book that was highly critical of Trump, the president strongly discouraged him from running for reelection. He did the same to Tennessee Senator Bob Corker, who was also a very severe critic.
So, the unanimous support of Republicans in both Houses of Congress is certainly explained by their fear of the president at least as much as their love for the man. Indeed, on Wednesday, when the House is scheduled to vote on impeaching President Trump, it is highly unlikely that even one Republican will join the Democratic majority to voting against him.
Are presidential polls OVER-estimating Trump’s popularity?
Similarly, when the Senate votes on whether to remove Trump from office early next year, all 53 Republican Senators are expected to vote “Nay!”
Still, for the last couple of weeks, there has been quite a bit of chatter about the possible results of a vote under which the Senators cast secret ballots. There was even some speculation that as many as 20 Republican Senators would vote to remove Trump from office. If they did, and the 47 Democrats and Independents joined them, they would have the two-thirds vote needed to remove the president from office.
And yet, even with a secret ballot, it is far beyond most Democrats’ wildest dreams that anything like that would happen. But perhaps there might be a handful of Republican Senators – or even as many as a dozen – who would actually vote their consciences.
Getting back to the presidential polls, do the current ones accurately reflect the president’s chances of reelection? Perhaps not.
But unlike the polls in 2016, maybe this time they are more accurately predicting the outcome on Election Day. Or, possibly, they may be getting it wrong once again. Perhaps this time Trump’s electoral strength is being overestimated.